Although many countries remain off track in meeting the ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash hunger poverty and a host of other social ills by 2015, quick and significant progress is obviously possible, according to Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.“Many countries are proving this,” Ms. Migiro told a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, citing increased public school enrolment, reduced child mortality thanks to massive vaccination campaigns, with 3 million more children surviving annually compared with the year 2000.“And we know the ingredients for success. Strong government leadership. Good policies that support private investment. And sound strategies for scaling up public investments. “The international community must back these favourable conditions with financial and technical assistance,” she said. “Our ambitious vision for a better world is still within reach, but we need all States to follow through on their commitments. Developing countries, yes, but especially those which are already more developed,” she added, calling for immediate rigorous and concerted national and international action to push back the frontiers of poverty, especially in light of skyrocketing food prices.Ms. Migiro noted that parliaments are key to achieving the MDGs, by showing political will in legislation and budget allocations. In developed countries in the North, parliaments should contribute to government efforts to honour their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of gross national income to official development assistance whose latest figures are in steep decrease.In the developing countries of the South, parliaments should not only be preoccupied by domestic issues but relate to what is taking place at the regional as well as the global level, she said. “They must press to ensure that their governments mobilize resources, set strategies and adopt policies geared toward reaching the MDGs. And they should participate in formulating poverty reduction strategies and monitoring efforts to carry them out,” she added, stressing the importance of accountability, good governance and human rights.Turning to climate change, Ms. Migiro noted that negotiations in Bangkok earlier this month agreed on a work programme to move forward towards crafting a new international climate change agreement.“Now is when the real work begins, and given the magnitude of the challenge ahead, actors from across the spectrum – not just government negotiators – need to be involved,” she said.“Governments at the national and local level need to work closely with intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, the media, civil society and individuals from around the world. As we seek to galvanize public opinion, Parliaments are uniquely poised to assist in this global alliance for action,” she added. 14 April 2008Although many countries remain off track in meeting the ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash hunger poverty and a host of other social ills by 2015, quick and significant progress is obviously possible, according to Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
“However, if the price of such change is the sacrifice of this country’s amphibious capability, we can only conclude this to be a short-sighted, militarily illiterate manoeuvre totally at odds with strategic reality.”The committee dismissed MOD suggestions that the nation’s new aircraft carriers could take the role of the amphibious ships.HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales “are in reality no substitute for the purpose-built amphibious warships in this role,” the report concluded.Julian Lewis, defence committee chairman, said the proposal to axe HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark 15 years before they were due to leave service “demonstrates, yet again, the desperate inadequacy of the defence budget”.He said: “We must reinstate a target of around 3 per cent of GDP – the percentage which we spent right up to the mid-1990s, long after the ‘peace dividend’ cuts, at the end of the Cold War, had been made.He said that unless Mr Williamson got more money “the Royal Marines will be reduced to a level far below the critical mass needed to sustain them as a high-readiness Commando force”. The report concludes: “The world is changing and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines need to change with it. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. HMS Bulwark in 2015 conducted rescue missions of migrants crossing the MediterraneanCredit: ET WE(CIS) LOUISE GEORGE/MOD But a series of former senior officers told the MPs that cutting the ships would leave Britain unable to mount a major amphibious landing.While Theresa May and Gavin Williamson both rejected the proposals just before Christmas, MPs say that unless the Defence Secretary can secure more funding, the Marines remain at risk.Mr Williamson has launched a new defence review, but has continued to stress the need to find savings and efficiencies in the MOD budgets. Proposals to shrink the Royal Marines and axe amphibious ships in defence cost-cutting would be “militarily illiterate” and “totally at odds with strategic reality” MPs have warned.A report from the Commons defence committee says following through with leaked suggestions to dramatically cut amphibious forces would “significantly undermine” Britain’s security.The report also criticises the conduct of a Whitehall national security review saying it failed to consult experts and was carried out without any Parliamentary scrutiny.The National Security Capability Review begun last summer led to proposals to cut up to 2,000 Royal Marines as part of attempts to fill a £20bn budget black hole over the next decade.Suggested cuts also included the retirement of amphibious ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as part of wide ranging reductions to all three services. Yet, while every major defence power was seeking to increase their amphibious forces, Britain “may be forced prematurely to abandon them”.Johnny Mercer MP, a former officer in 29 Commando, said: “This report puts into sharp focus the folly of removing from this nation’s military capabilities the amphibious fleet, and reducing the Royal Marines.“In an area where every single other credible tier one military nation is expanding their Amphibious Forces, we cannot afford to be heading in the other direction, shrinking to the ‘little Britain’ so many of our foes would like to see.” The committee said global trends such as the spread of cities along the world’s coastlines meant there was an ongoing need for amphibious operations.